Thursday, April 05, 2012

A JOURNEY THROUGH 10 COUNTRIES -Online election coverage in Africa

Ben Akoh & Kwami Ahiabenu II

The African Elections Project ( was established with the vision of enhancing the ability of journalists, citizen journalists and the news media to provide more timely and relevant election information and knowledge, while undertaking monitoring of specific and important aspects of elections using social media tools and ICT applications. Elections are the cornerstone of democracy and the media have a key role to play in deepening democracy by providing impartial coverage of elections. In addition to traditional election coverage, online election reporting on the Africa continent has been experiencing growth in recent years. It takes the form of special election websites that incorporate elements of citizen journalism or crowdsourcing and is mostly driven by mobile phones. It is mashed up with blogs, interactive maps and social media tools such as Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and Facebook among others. This article chronicles the African Elections Project's field experiences based on the elections it has covered in 10 countries: Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Mauritania, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana, Togo and Niger, showing the similarities and importance of online election coverage in these countries. The Internet is gradually providing new sets of tools for journalists which could be relevant and applicable for reporting elections. The paper concludes by showing the difficulties journalists encounter in the practice of reporting elections and offers suggestions for future research.

Published in March 2012 in Journalism Practice

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